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Feeding and development problems are unfortunately very common in baby cockatiels. Most of the problems are associated with handfeeding, but there can be problems with parent feeding too. The "Buying/Selling Unweaned Babies" thread at outlines some of the risks of handfeeding.

srtiels is our resident expert on cockatiel breeding, and the section of her website called "Articles from the Nestbox" at contains a wealth of information on breeding-related issues. The purpose of this post is to direct you to information that will help you identify and solve problems related to feeding and development.

Yeast problems are the #1 killer of babies and can occur with either handfeeding or parent feeding. Yeast Problems with Babies at provides information on identifying and dealing with this problem. You may need to consult a veterinarian to get an antifungal medication such as Medistatin.

Slow and Sour Crop Remedies are described at Slow crop is when the baby's crop doesn't empty at the normal rate, which means that the baby isn't digesting the food as fast as it should. Sour crop is an alternate term for this condition.

Crop and Digestive Problems - Advanced Procedures at deals with crop stasis, dehydration, and other issues.

Overstretched crop can occur when the baby has been fed an excessive amount of food. A crop that is too loose can't process food normally, but this can be corrected with a crop bra. Please see the crop bra sticky at

Crop burn occurs when the baby was given formula that was too hot or if the baby's crop was pressed against a too-hot surface such as a heating pad.The thread at has pictures and information on dealing with crop burn.

Aspiration is when handfeeding formula goes down the wrong way, into the baby's trachea instead of the esophagus, and it can go into the lungs and/or prevent the baby from breathing. This can quickly be fatal, but the emergency technique described at can be a lifesaver. A baby that suddenly collapses during handfeeding has probably aspirated. A smaller degree of aspiration is not immediately life-threatening but can cause aspiration pneumonia due to the growth of microorganisms in the lungs, so consult a veterinarian if your baby has aspirated but survived. Treatment can be difficult but there are useful therapies for this condition.

When a baby does not develop at the normal rate, this is called stunting. A stunted baby will look fairly similar to a normal baby that is much younger than the baby's real age. But there are other telltale signs if you have a sharp eye and know what to look for. The picture at the bottom of this article has details.

Feeding and digestion issues are the primary cause of stunting although there can be other reasons such as an underlying disease or genetic defect. Handfeeding can cause digestive problems that result in stunting if the formula is the wrong temperature, the wrong thickness, the wrong quantity, or if improper techniques have introduced undesirable microorganisms. The Handfeeding chart sticky at includes information on proper formula consistency and feeding schedules.

Parent fed birds may have stunting issues if the parents are not providing enough food, or if the parents are providing food that is too hard and dry for the baby to digest. Immature parents or first-time parents are particularly at risk for underfeeding the babies. The parents change the consistency of their "home cooking" as the babies grow and gear it toward the needs of the oldest babies, so the younger chicks are at higher risk of getting food that's hard to digest. Both problems can be solved with Assist Feeding, which is described at Assist feeding can be used to socialize chicks, as an alternative to pulling them for handfeeding, and is called co-parenting when it's used for this purpose.

Stunted babies will grow and catch up to their better-developed peers if the feeding deficiencies that caused the stunting are corrected, although their adult size might be a little smaller than it would have been if they were never stunted.

There can be other development problems if the parents don't have access to high-quality food to give to the babies. The parents should be provided with easy to digest, nutrient-dense foods. Dry seed may be hard for babies to digest, but sprouting will make seeds and grains softer and easier to digest - see the sprouting sticky at and be extra careful about mold and bacteria issues. Choose whole-grain products over low-nutrition foods like white bread or white rice. Pellets are an excellent baby food - the parents will eat the pellets then drink water to soften them up for the babies.

The Watch Me Grow article at shows the normal development pattern for a cockatiel chick from hatch to the age of 3 weeks. This baby was bigger than average so your babies may weigh less, but their general physical development should be similar.

The picture below points out the more subtle signs of stunting. You can check out srtiels' "Babies in Trouble" album at birds/Babies in Trouble/ to test your skills at spotting the signs of stunting.


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